Hebrews 5-6, Psalm 27
When I was accepted to medical school in 1984, on the next day they did not give me a scalpel and tell me to operate. I then went through 4 years of school, 4 years of residency, and further discipling by my senior partners for years to lead me to maturity as a physician. When someone enters a military recruiting center, they are not given a rifle and told to run towards the enemy and just shoot. They go through a period of basic training, followed by a position where more experienced soldiers instruct them and help them develop maturity in the actual field of battle. When a prospective athlete signs up for a sport and goes to orientation, they are not given a hockey stick and skates or a ball and told to score. They have coaches and experienced players who teach them and disciple them on how to mature as an athlete. It is no different in the arena of church. In the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, He said in verse 19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,...". He did not tell them to make believers, but disciples. We, the body of believers, must not just look to our pastors, but need to come along newer believers and assist them in this process if they are to reach spiritual maturity and truly become disciples. We can not relinquish that role to someone else.
We read in Hebrews 5:12-14, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not spiritual food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." The author was stating that though these Christians should have been teaching others, they were stuck in a state of spiritual infancy. The danger of not growing is expressed by Paul in Ephesians 4:14, "that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,". Without being discipled or led to maturity, we have no anchor to hold us firm when false teaching and life's troubles occur. Sometimes the problem is at the level of the church or pastor who dumb down their messages in non-Bible centered churches wanting to tickle the ears and eyes of the congregation with a little Scripture, but more with jokes, good visual aids, riveting music. People need meat to mature, not milk. No one is static, they are either taking a step closer or further in their relationship with God every day, it is a dynamic walk. Hebrews 6:1 says: "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,". Chuck Smith said, "There is a place for evangelism, and I thank God for the many people we saved every week, but the primary focus of our ministry is to bring people into maturity. The time comes when you need to graduate from elementary school."
When people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, is our aim to get them plugged in to a ministry or a good church, then step back because our job is over? This should not be the case. If a ministry is simply a place of service and socialization, then they will grow in works but not in maturity. If they go to a good church once a week, then this is a relationship which also can only grow to a certain point. The pastor leads a congregation, but it is up to us to come alongside each other and help in the process of maturity. When people see us in fellowship, do they expect to hear about our family or sports, or will we ask them what they are reading and help them grow. Billy Graham said, "When God opens a door, what possible excuse can we have for not going through it?" Now that many of us are finishing the Scriptures for the year in the One Year Bible Challenge, who will we take along for the journey next year. As we consider Christmas gifts this year, how about giving someone the gift of helping them mature in their faith in Jesus. These people can be members of our family, people at church, friends, co-workers, people at the gym, etc. Not only do they need it, but so do the mature. Mature believers are not meant to keep filling themselves without letting the Holy Spirit pour out from us and into others. If we view the Jordan River as the Holy Spirit, it enters two large bodies of water in Israel, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is full of life because the river flows in and out. The Dead Sea is dead, because it flows in but remains stagnant. Whether mature or immature we need to be growing and moving in the right direction. Lastly, if you think that you don't possess the knowledge to lead someone else; if you have been in the Word diligently for awhile (and reading through this year qualifies you), then simply step out in faith ask someone to join you next year as we go through the Scriptures again in one year, and allow the Holy Spirit to give you the wisdom to help someone else. How you disciple can vary from grabbing lunch once a week, calling on the phone a couple of times a week to answer Biblical questions, or lingering after church and engaging on a regular basis what you both read that week. Don't worry about the specifics, just boldly step out as Jesus commanded us to, and He will guide us through the rest.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: